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Five Staging Tips for Houston Sellers

Dear Sellers,

I’m thinking about you!   Just some handy dandy everyday tips to freshen and prepare your house for sale ….   Ready?  Go!

Staging Tips:

Everyone who plans on selling their house could use some staging tips. Staging makes a house more appealing to any potential buyer. According to the National Association of Realtors, staged homes sell faster than unstaged ones and may even garner a higher asking price. Staging your home to sell it is very different than regular interior decorating, so take a look at these staging tips to make your house looks like someone else’s home!

Staging tips - cleaning

Clean your home from top to bottom.

This may go without saying, but it’s important to keep your house as clean as possible while it’s on the market. Buyers want to know that the previous owners took care of their future home. Sticky counters, dirty floors, and grimy bathrooms will make buyers turn around and move on to the next house on their list.

Get rid of clutter and personal items.

You want buyers focused on your house, not on the items in your house. Personal photos, keepsakes, and other items can be very distracting. Excess clutter can make space appear smaller and should be cleared away to make your home look clean and roomy.

Paint your interior walls with neutral colors.

Now isn’t the best time to show off your lime green feature wall. Color preference varies widely by person. Avoid bold colors to help buyers picture themselves in your space. Even if you avoid dramatic colors, you don’t have to paint all of the walls white. Rich grays, browns, and cream colors all look wonderful and keep a space neutral.

Show off your closet space.

Storage sells! Keep your closets clean and organized. Take out some of your belongings to give your closet the appearance of spaciousness. When you have showings, keep the closet doors wide open so buyers know that your closets have nothing to hide.

Don’t forget to stage the outdoors.

A few pieces of furniture, some potted plants, and a fresh coat of paint can give a home the perfect amount of curb appeal. Give potential buyers an idea of how they might use the space, and that may be the tipping point that leads them to make an offer!

How to Make Your Houston Move Stress-Free

Hiring a mover is one of the best ways to reduce stress during an already stressful time. Houston is a huge city, so how can you keep your Houston move simple? There are tons of movers to choose from. Who can you trust with all of your possessions? Here are some tips to keep your Houston move simple!

Don’t trust someone without verifying who they really are. It’s finally here! The day you move into the new home. The last thing you want is for someone to drive away with a truck of your belongings, never to be heard from again. Get referrals from someone you know. Check to make sure the company is a real moving company. Doing your research early will save you a lot of heartache later.

Avoid scammers during your Houston move

Get an estimate. No mover will know how much you owe unless they can see how much stuff they’ll be moving. Have three or four companies come in and give you a quote. This will save you from any surprises later and help you get the best price in town.

Do your research early. Booking a mover at the last minute means you might not be getting a good price. It also means you could be missing out on working with the best companies. Consider your options long before the big weekend to save money, time, and avoid companies that might be trying to take advantage of you.

Pack your belongings on your own. Hiring movers to pack your belongings can incur hefty additional costs. Movers may be responsible for damage to your belongings if they pack them, but any decent mover will take care of your belongings and ensure they make it to their new home safely.

How have you simplified your Houston move? What’s your favorite way to keep costs low and stress down?

Move to the Tanglewood Area and Get Moving!

Living in the Tanglewood area makes it easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The neighborhood is full of healthy food options, fitness centers, and beautiful parks. As a Tanglewood resident and a life-long “gym rat”, exercise is an important part of my routine. Whether it is cycling, yoga, HIIT training at Empower FitnessLab, walking at Memorial Park, or the occasional round of golf, exercise is a habit for me.

The Tanglewood area is the perfect place to kickstart or maintain your exercise routine. For me, exercise is as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth or taking a shower. I encourage you to start slowly and build up. Whether you’re just beginning and going once or twice a week or increasing to three or four times a week, it’s time to get moving!

Run, ride a bike, or just get active in the Tanglewood area!

Where can you exercise in the Tanglewood area?

There are tons of possibilities! Are you into CrossFit? If you’re in the Tanglewood area looking for a workout with lots of variety, check out Clutch Crossfit on Schumacher. Crossfit is great for experienced athletes and total beginners!

For those who have been exercising for a while, The Core is an excellent gym choice. They have plenty of equipment and are very trainer-friendly for those of you who may be working with a personal trainer.

Just on the east side of 610, Uptown Fitness has tons of personal trainers to help you achieve your fitness goals. They have tons of classes, nutrition counseling, and even a corporate wellness program!

Many people need a gym at an affordable rate; fortunately, the Tanglewood area has multiple 24 Hour Fitness locations. Visit the Galleria location and then grab a healthy dinner at H.S. Green afterward!

Why exercise?

I highly advocate exercise for all of its benefits. It promotes a general sense of well-being, boosting endorphins, healthy BMI, stress relief, and spending quality time with family and friends. As a busy Realtor, it’s important for me to manage my time wisely to ensure that I get my exercise, and my clients directly benefit from this! My increased energy, clarity of mind, and overall stamina help me help them solve their difficult real estate problems.

Making small changes and implementing them consistently over a long period of time is so important! Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect taught me this and many other tips. Small changes lead to big impacts. Even if you’re feeling stressed out or tired, look deep inside yourself and find the courage to go for a 10-15 minute walk. One day that 10-15 minutes will become 20-30 minutes, you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed, and grateful for the small changes you implemented. So, start developing the habits today that will turn you into a “gym rat,” and you’ll never look back!

Downsizing Tips for a Stress Free Move

Laura and I are in the middle of downsizing, so this week’s blog is timely!!

Buying a new home can be extremely stressful. One of the biggest things to send you into anxiety overload is how to move all of your stuff. So what is the easiest way to transport it all? One way to make your move less miserable is downsizing. While it’s true that sorting, donating, and tossing stuff can be a headache itself, it is so worth it in the end. Although I have not purchased my first home yet, I have moved over fifteen times. Tired of moving everything I own,I learned to become less of a hoarder and more of a down-sizer.

downsizing

After doing some research, I find these six steps to be most effective in downsizing.

1. Consider your new space

Whether you are downsizing or upgrading your space, keep in mind what will and won’t fit. This includes style as well as size. If you aren’t willing to pay to store it, it probably isn’t worth keeping.

2. Dig through the closets

Consider following the “two-season rule” and donate/toss any clothing you haven’t worn in two seasons.

3. Sift through old electronics

Whether they’re old laptops, broken cellphones, or numerous micro-USB chargers, more than likely they are just taking up space. Instead of just throwing them away, check out an electronic recycling bin near you.

4. Sort, sort, sort

Go through each room in your house and create three piles of what you should keep, donate, or toss.

5. Create an “open first box”

The last thing you want to do your first night in your new home is sift through boxes to find your basic needs. Some things you may want to consider adding to this box is toilet paper, light bulbs, toiletries, basic cleaning supplies, and bed sheets. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to label each box to make unpacking a breeze.

Deciding whether or not you should sell, donate, give away, or throw away is stressful and time consuming. However, in the end, you will have less to sort through and move in your new home! For more tips on downsizing, visit http://lifehacker.com/how-to-downsize-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-523560358

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

 

Open House: Safety Tips For Agents

During my internship with Ces, I shadowed another agent at an open house. As we sat there it came across my mind that If I were not there, she would be alone. Being the paranoid person I am, I began asking her what she thought about the safety of doing open houses alone.  Especially as a female realtor, you must be cautious and use your best judgement. Not only is the house advertised as open, but chances are people assume only one realtor is present.

 

September is Realtor Safety Month. With these unique safety concerns present, I researched some tips to take when holding an open house or maybe even meeting with clients. According to the National Association of REALTORS these are some tips agents should follow when doing an open house alone.

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Follow this link To take a Real Estate Agent safety survey. http://www.inman.com/2016/09/01/how-safe-do-you-feel-on-the-job/

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

Millennials- Know What They Want and How They Want It

Since baby boomers, millennials, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are the largest group to emerge and is changing how home buying and design is conducted- along with the results. Millennials have a simpler yet more sophisticated taste. They are educated, keen, and socially conscious. Because these young adults account for a large portion of home buyers, it is important to keep in mind their personality to find the perfect match.

Millennials

According to Inman The four main aspects to keep in mind when attracting millennial customers are:

  1. Millennials need social options
    • They want to live close to bars, cafes, and shopping. Because they care so much about their social lives, millennials take a strong consideration in these aspects.
  2. They want to feel cosmopolitan
    1. Most of these young adults have a limited budget, but want to live a posh lifestyle. They want to be able to walk to their favorite cafes, take the metro down the street, and have a place to park their cars. The comfort of city living as well as the glam life needs to remain in their reach.
  3. Convenience is a must 
    • Millennials want to be in the middle of social settings as well as places like doctors offices, pharmacies, and grocery stores. Conveniences are no longer “nice to have,” but are “must-haves.”
  4. They want what they want because they can have it 
    • Let’s face it, thanks to technology, they are impatient and want the world at the click of a button. With apps that allow millennials to have access to their favorite meal delivered at anytime, why shouldn’t they expect their new home to have a sun deck on the roof?

Although millennials have a simple taste, it remains more sophisticated. When trying to attract them to your home, try to turn it into a functional, modern oasis with a few technology gadgets to really impress them.

See http://www.inman.com/2016/06/13/4-millennial-buyer-must-haves-and-why-they-want-them/ for some physical attributes millennials are looking for when buying a home.

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

 

 

Staging Homes for a Better Showing

Help! You’ve just decided to list your home for sale and you aren’t sure how to give it that WOW appearance. A person’s decision to buy is almost always based on emotions rather than logic. So how do you get the “Yes, I want to buy this home” answer? Because first impression is so important, Staging homes before showing them can make or break a deal. Following these simple tips will ensure a successful home showing.

Staging Homes for a Successful Showing

  1. Remove clutter and clear off counter. Clear off counters and pack unnecessary decorative items. Put extra furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season items. Don’t forget to clean out the garage!
  2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
  3. Keep everything extra clean. First impressions are everything! make a strong one by assuring the buyer that the home has been well-cared for. Mopping, waxing floors, and cleaning the stove and refrigerator help! Polish doorknobs and address numbers. Hiring a cleaning service could make this easier.
  4. Get rid of smells. Perform a “sniff test.” Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Potpourri, scent plugs, or scented candles will help.
  5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten every room. Replace all burned-out bulbs and clean the walls. A fresh coat of neutral paint is a great idea.
  6. Don’t disregard minor repairs. Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or dripping faucet may seem minute, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well maintained.
  7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, a pot of bright flowers near the entryway helps.
  8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
  9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will spice up a dull room. Also, add accent pillows for the sofa.
  10. Buy a flowering plant. Put it near a window you pass by frequently.
  11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
  12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in a game room you might display a chess game in progress.
  13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. If you have a view, show it off!
  14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use. 
  15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight, along with old towels and toothbrushes. Add a new shower curtain and fancy guest soaps.
  16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate or confine them to one room, and let the real estate agent know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. Agents can’t watch everyone all the time.
  18. Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there. 

Bellaire Kitchen staging homes

By staging homes, accentuating your home’s positive attributes and eliminating attention to negative aspects you will have a better home showing! Staging homes gives buyers a vision of what the home would feel like if they were in it. See http://homebuying.about.com/od/sellingahouse/qt/ShowingHome.htm for more tips and info on better home showings.

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

First-Time Homebuyers Tips

Are you dreaming of becoming a homeowner? Although there are a few challenges first-time buyers face, becoming a homeowner doesn’t have to be a miserable, complicated process. Listed below are some tips that first-time homebuyers should know before house hunting, as well as common mistakes first-time homebuyers should avoid.

First-Time Homebuyers

Tips for First-Time Homebuyers:

  1. Find out how much you can borrow
    • Several factors impact the amount of money that your bank is willing to lend you. Because of this, you should be aware of your income, down payment, credit score, outgoings and current debts are important factors in this crucial step. Avoid looking for a home first and a loan later. Know before you start shopping!
  2. Don’t use up your savings on the down payment
    • One of the biggest mistakes first-time buyers make is spending all or most of their savings on the down payment and closing cost. It’s risky to deplete your savings and live on the edge. Also, make sure you keep your wallet shut before closing. Lenders pull credit reports before the closing to make sure the borrower’s financial situation has not changed since the loan was approved.
  3. Do your research
    • You must get an idea of what’s on the market. Don’t just look at the price tag, but check out what is going on in the surrounding areas. Is there an airport being built near by? What are the schools like?
  4. Never underestimate the knowledge of mom and dad
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. They may have information and experience in handling issues you may not be aware of.
  5. Account for additional costs
    • Don’t overlook the ancillary cost that come with buying a house. Look over the cost of taxes, valuation fees, agent fees, closing cost, HOA fees, etc. Keep utilities and other monthly outings in mind as well. Remember, just because you can afford the mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford to own a home.
  6. Don’t settle for the first property you see
    • Before viewing houses, make a list of the most important features you are looking for. To avoid any costly surprises, learn the difference between cosmetic issues and real ones.

One of the largest financial decisions people make in their lives is buying a home. Educate yourself before you start viewing homes and find a reputable real estate agent, a good loan officer or broker, and possibly a lawyer. With a good agent, you will be protected from any of these pitfalls you might come across during the home buying process. The more you educate yourself, the less stressful the process will be!

For more tips for first-time home buyers, visit http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/first-time-homebuyer-guide.asp

-Kaylee Monteleone

What Can Go Wrong During a Real Estate Transaction

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In the three short weeks I have been in Houston I have come to realize that in real estate, every day is a new day. My days in the office have been anything but mundane. Not only do you deal with different personalities, but no two transactions seem to ever be the same!With that being said, bumps in the road are likely to arise at some point. While other transactions go on smoothly, I have researched some of the most common things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction.

The top 15 are:

  1. Buyer Remorse
  2. Unknown structural issues arise
  3. SURPRISE! You’ve got MOLD!
  4. Buyer has been pre-approved- but,wait! Buyer has NO CREDIT!
  5. WAIT! You can’t take it with you! (appliances, etc…)
  6. New home is ready and you have to buy, but your home is not sold
  7. Your house is sold but you cannot find a property to buy
  8. Buyer’s real estate agent does not show up at settlement
  9. Your agent or the other agent acts unprofessionally
  10. Buyer does not bring money in correct form to settlement
  11. Sellers failed to properly complete repairs
  12. Lender drops the ball
  13. Faulty appraisal
  14. Buyer Converts Auto Lease to Purchase (or, buys a new car!)
  15. The SELLER decides not to SELL!

Buying or selling a home is exciting, especially when the market is right for it. To minimize the occurrence of the things that sometimes go wrong in real estate sales, selecting the best real estate agent will help you know what to expect and how to deal with these set backs when they arise. Navigate through the home buying and selling process with ease when you work with Ces Guerra at Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene.

 

See http://activerain.com/blogsview/4710395/top-10-things-that-can-go-wrong-during-a-real-estate-transaction for more information on things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction.

-Kaylee Monteleone, Intern

Real Estate Agents CAN Work Together!

A common misconception in the world of real estate is that being an agent is easy. The truth is, being a real estate agent is hard work! To be successful, real estate agents take plenty of time, commitment, and acquire a real know of the industry. Because clients typically work 9-5 Monday through Friday, real estate agents will take calls on night and weekends. A dedicated agent is always on call!

Does this seem a bit overwhelming? A point may come where an agent is swamped and needs assistance. Unfortunately, people have the misconception that being a real estate agent means working for yourself and yourself only. But what happens when an agent has too many clients who need to see properties at the same time and no one is willing to go show a house for them? In this situation, as well as numerous others, the importance of building a positive relationship with other real estate agents is imperative.

real estate agents

With 30 plus years in business and 2 in real estate, Ces says, “while this is an independent profession we’re all working in, there are aspects that involve “teamwork”, “partnering”, collaboration and affiliation.” The goal of a successful team of real estate agents is to do more business; an efficient, well-organized team will generally close more deals than individual agents. The “team” can now be in 2 or 3 places at one time with more than one brain of experience and expertise. Not only does this result access and expertise to real estate consumers, but leads to a pleasant workplace and expansion of knowledge.

According to Mark Ford, founder of The Palm Beach Research Group, these are the 12 ways you can become more charismatic and get more out of your business relationships:

1. People tend to do business with people they like. So, behave in a way that makes you likable. Be polite and patient. Avoid being crude, rude, gruff, or impatient.

2. People are attracted to people who keep their word. That means when you make a promise, do exactly what you promised. Do it by the deadline you promised – or sooner.

3. People trust people who have their best interests at heart. They will think you have their best interests at heart when you give them advice that benefits them as much as, or more than, it benefits you.

4. People want to do business with people who are experts in their fields. So, become an expert in your field through practice, research, training, education, and study. As you acquire that expertise, share it. Give speeches, and write articles and books. Be generous with your knowledge. Know that in doing so, you are demonstrating your expertise.

5. People feel comfortable giving money to people who are authentic and honest. (That means you must be honest, frank, ethical, and aboveboard.) Believe that telling the truth is more powerful than lying, even when the lies are mendacities by omission.

6. People are attracted to people who are attractive. You don’t have to get plastic surgery, but you can eat right, exercise, dress well, and be well-groomed. And pay attention to your personal hygiene.

7. People feel better with people who seem to be “real.” The best way to do that is to admit your shortcomings when they are evident. When the conversation turns to a subject about which you know next to nothing, admit it.

8. People respond to people who listen and pay attention to what they are saying. Remember the old cliché: You have two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you talk.

9. People feel comfortable with people who are like them. The trick here is to identify what you have in common with the other person. It could be golf, kids, pets, or anything else. Then use that to cement a bond between you.

10. People are attracted to people who are humble. So don’t brag about your successes. You can mention them, but don’t brag. If someone brings them up, downplay them. Switch the topic as soon as possible to the other person.

11. People tend to value people who are in demand. That’s why you should never tell a prospective customer that things are slow and you really need his business. Think about doctors. How would you feel if you walked into a doctor’s office and you were the only patient? Wouldn’t you wonder how good he was? As much as you hate it when you have to sit there and wait, don’t you feel more assured when a doctor’s waiting room is packed? Of course you do.

12. People want to be surrounded by helpful people – people who make their lives easier and save them time. So make it a personal policy to attend to the needs of others – even when your purpose is to help yourself.

Following these steps to build and maintain good relationships with other real estate agents will encourage you to be more engaged and committed to your job. The doors will soon open for great opportunities!

See http://palmbeachgroup.com/content/palm-beach-daily/the-ultimate-3-step-guide-to-profitable-business-relationships-2/28434/ for more about building relationships in the work environment.

-Kaylee Monteleone

“Surround yourself with people that push you to do and be better. No drama or mess. Just higher goals and higher vibrations. Good times and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.” – thinkgrowprosper